Housing problems in urban areas: squatter settlements
The speed of urbanisation in many LEDCs results in squatter settlements (slums) being built. These are illegal settlements built on used land. The pace of rural-urban migration is too fast to allow the time needed to build proper houses and for the economy to grow to provide jobs.
People find unoccupied areas of land and materials and begin to build their own houses. As there are few official jobs available, people create their own employment: selling items in a market, becoming cleaners etc.
Living in squatter settlements
settlements are unplanned so the houses do not have basic infrastructure such as
sanitation, piped water, electricity and road access houses are made of any waste material available nearby - corrugated iron, pieces of board - assembled poorly to provide a basic shelter
houses have a simple layout that may have a living area separate from a sleeping area
parents and large families inhabit a small shack which is often overcrowded and the squatter settlements are very overcrowded
There are often no toilets; water must be collected from a nearby source.
rubbish is not collected and the area can develop into a place of widespread disease.
the inhabitants tend to create poorly paid jobs where the income is unreliable or they work in less well-paid jobs.
quality of life is poor; the housing and environment are largely responsible for this
the residents have very little money so cannot improve their homes or environment
crime is a problem, children often do not go to school, the family lives on top of each other, there is no privacy, disease is widespread and life is one of trying to survive from one day to the next
Strategies to improve living conditions
There are several methods used to improve the squatter settlements:
Self-help occurs where local government supports the residents of the squatter settlements in improving their homes.
There is cooperation between residents to work together. There is also cooperation from the local authority, which offers cheap loans and possibly materials to encourage improvements to take place. Together, the residents, with help from the local authority, may begin to build health centres and schools.
About 3,400 families live in the 12 squatter settlements which line the 13 km stretch of the Bangkok
Bang Bua Canal in the north-east of the city. Many live in wooden houses, built directly above the polluted canal, which floods during heavy rains, and use narrow bamboo and wood plank walkways that only allow one person to pass.
The Bang Bua Canal community improvement project, called The Baan Mankong Project, was the first slum improvement project in Bangkok (2004). After living with insecurity and risk of fire and eviction for close to a century, the canal-side residents, joined together in 2004 to plan its redevelopment.
Self-selected groups of households met to plan, budget, and carry out improvements. They negotiated a 30-year renewable lease on the publicly owned land. Working with architects from a nearby university, who designed three basic house types—detached (single), semi-detached
(double), and row houses—they built 90 square-meter houses, often from recycled doors, timbers, and window frames.
The wooden houses that limited access to the canal were demolished and rebuilt on the interior of the community to make way for the public access walkway along the canal, now wider, for playing, walking, biking, and emergency vehicles. The community plans to revive traditional floating markets along the canal.